An editorial piece in the Montreal Gazette last week typifies the defeatist attitude that permeates the Anglo community, where even those in leadership positions choose to give up rather than fight.
"Gendron has proposed that municipalities with an anglophone population of 10 per cent or more be required to provide bilingual service. That’s asking a lot. A more reasonable proposal would be to require municipalities with 50 per cent or more anglo residents to provide bilingual service, and give other towns the option of doing so.Five years ago, on the thirtieth anniversary of Bill 101, the Gazette published this drivel.
But the sad reality, as demonstrated by the all-party reaction to Gendron’s campaign, is that under present circumstances asking for any change in the language law that would benefit the province’s English-speaking minority is asking too much." Link
Bill 101 paved way for peace
"A generation later, the language charter is widely accepted as an intrinsic part of Quebec’s social fabric. Both anglos and francophones of moderate persuasion say the law has engendered an unprecedented era of social peace and easing of language tensions and fostered a cross-cultural communication between English and French Quebecers that has served as an important bridge between the storied "two solitudes" of the bad old days." LinkSocial peace...
The collective wisdom of our Anglo intelligentsia, spearheaded by the Montreal Gazette, Hubert Bauch and Anne Lagacé Dowson is that whatever rights we give up each day is a small price to pay for the peaceful coexistence we have achieved.
Put that way, it sounds pretty neat.
But if one considers that it is really no different from paying a weekly protection fee to the local street gang in order to 'insure' that the goons don't beat the crap out of us, it doesn't sound so noble, but that is what we have done, bargained away our rights in the name of security.
Those of us in the English community who advocate appeasement, conveniently forget that hundreds of thousands of our fellow Anglos were chased out of this province by language persecution. When reminded that this was the price of this so-called 'social peace,' they make the case that those who left were no better than Rhodesians, unwilling to downgrade their status to second class citizenship in the name of safety and expediency.
The appeasers have bought into the narrative that somehow the English, the Irish, the Scots and later the Ethnics are all evil anglicizers, exploiters and colonialists of the innocent and naïve Francophone nation, when reality tells us that proportionally, it is the industry of these minorities that actually made the greatest contribution to the building of the province.
Slowly over the last forty years Anglos went from being full and respected partners in Quebec society to an afterthought, a people whose rights as a founding nation were cast aside, replaced by the notion that we are a bother, interlopers who have overstayed our welcome and where our Francophone hosts begrudgingly tolerate us because they have to, not because they want to.
Like an unwanted longtime resident in a rent controlled apartment building our Francophone landlords wait rather impatiently for us to die off or leave, turning off the electricity every now and then or cutting off the heat in an effort to hurry up the process.
Like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water, our status and rights were incrementally chipped away until we became what we are today, a second class element of society along with the immigrants and ethnics, reminded on a daily basis that we are not what Quebec is supposed to be.
It's sadly amusing to read justifications in the press describing how necessary and reasonable provisions of Bill 101 are and that the restrictions and denial of civil liberties imposed on the English and ethnics are not that big a deal.
It's not surprising that the law is popular among Francophones, the price for defending the French language is paid by our community, not theirs.
The issue of bilingual status for towns is one of Bill 101's cruelest and most vindictive elements.
The law demands that a city or town have an outright majority of Anglophones before it can use the English publicly, alongside French, of course.
To Francophone militants this seems eminently generous, but the provision was actually put in place in an attempt to avoid a human rights outcry at the United Nations where the Quebec government would be obliged to explain how a town like Montreal West with 80% anglophone population would be barred from using English.
And so when it comes to rights, it seems that fairness is in the eye of the beholder.
Somehow it is fair that a town in Quebec with a 49% Anglophone population be denied the right to communicate with citizens in English, but an Air Canada flight with no French passengers aboard be obliged to have French speaking personnel to communicate and make announcements to passengers in both languages.
Each day, we are told that Francophones, as the church lady used to say on SNL are "Special" and as such deserve extended language rights in Canada which they deny their English citizens in Quebec.
Imagine if Air Canada or Via Rail were free to impose that same 50% threshold rule in their operations and so be required to offer French only in the case where there was a clear majority of Francophones aboard an airplane or train.
In cases where there weren't enough Francophones aboard, a passenger could still order a Seven-Up in French.
All she'd have to do is wait for the crew to finish serving everyone in English and then send a written request to the pilot requesting service in French. How convenient and fair!
Such is the stupidity of the argument made by French militants who tell us that English townsfolk can get English documentation, available on request!
Should the 50% rule be applied by Ontario and New Brunswick, Francophones in cities like Moncton (34% French) and Ottawa (21% French) would lose the right to receive French communication alongside English, from the city as a matter of course.
In fact just about every city or town in Canada outside Quebec would fall short of a Francophone majority and as such, would be ineligible for bilingual communication, a situation that would be described as unfair, by French language boosters.
To these French language defenders there is nothing discordant in supporting the requirement for bilingual personnel in a Cornwall hospital, while defending the principle that nobody be 'forced' to speak English on the job in Quebec.
Incredibly, in Quebec, it remains public policy that minority rights are to be tolerated only in cases where the minority is the majority, a convoluted notion if ever there was one.
Again, perfect sense in this province....
The unmitigated effrontery of the double standard is maddening.
I could go on and on.... so could you.
And so that brings me back around to the likes of Stéphane Gendron, a man clearly tilting at windmills.
You know you've struck a nerve when the whole Quebec establishment, both sovereigntist and federalist attacks you.
That the Francophone community is furiously denouncing him in a vitriolic campaign of denigration is understandable.
The story has already spilled out across Canada and the fear remains that the story could spread to the United States with the province again subjected to ridicule and derision, perhaps by another '60 Minutes' fiasco.
But it is the reaction in the English media that is saddest, where Gendron is portrayed as a pitiful figure fighting a losing battle and discredited because he made some injudicious remarks about Israel (for which he later apologized for) therefore disqualifying him now from being taken seriously.
But as Jonathan Kay wrote in the National Post 'sometimes devils dance on the side of angels'
Like those merchants in the neighborhood who continue to pay the street gang protection money while rationalizing it as a good business decision, seeing somebody stand up to the hoodlums is embarrassing.
When he ultimately fails, the Anglo detractors will say 'I told you so' as if their chosen path of appeasement is validated.
History abounds with stories of heroic, yet futile resistance and those of shameless collaboration.
History judges the appeasers and collaborationists harshly, it is the resisters who we admire, whether those efforts are futile or not.
Stéphane Gendron is a hero very much because he is bound to lose his fight.
One thing remains indisputable, the longer he lasts on the battlefield, the more harm he does to the credibility of his opponents and like Rocky Balboa boxing against Apollo Creed, just standing on his feet for the full fifteen rounds, is victory in and of itself.
For those apologists who say his fight is useless, I tell them that they are wrong.
Everyday that Stéphane Gendron continues the fight and keeps the story in the news, the issue of minority English rights in Quebec remains unsettled and that so-called 'social peace' declared by appeasers, remains an illusion.
That is what the other side understands better than we, and that is why they hate Gendron so much.
Ultimately, it remains humiliating that a francophone is fighting a battle that we are too afraid to engage in ourselves.
All I can offer is this brief passage from one of my favorite poems;
"And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light"
It has been pointed out in the comments section that perhaps Huntingdon is NOT breaking the law!
This according to a memo written by l'Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) itself, in 1999.
|Click Here for the original at the OQLF website|
"ALL of Quebec's municipalities can put out information in both languages and it wouldn't break the law. (nice research Steve) So the OQLF harassing him at all is ridiculous, even from their own text."
Thanks to Hugo for pointing this out.